In one of the longest-winded acceptance speeches in Oscar history, Halle Berry made sure to thank her agent. She also gave praise to her lawyer – twice. In fact, Berry even muttered Jada Pinkett’s name when she was on the awards podium accepting the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Monsters Ball. But Berry forgot to mention Billy Bob Thornton, her co-star in Ball and possibly the reason she gave such a powerful performance.
Like her win, many aspects of the 74th Academy Awards were appropriate. However, in more ways, Sunday’s Oscar ceremony was just as long-winded, if not as misguided, as Berry’s emotional acceptance.
Although supporting actor winner Jim Broadbent, songwriter Randy Newman and the animated feature Shrek took home well-deserved Oscars, A Beautiful Mind, along with every war movie and Denzel Washington were also honored when it’s questionable if they were the best choices in their categories.
By giving both Berry and Washington the top acting honors, the Academy sent the wrong message. In the same night Sidney Poitier received an honorary award for career excellence, Washington was given a pity award. It’s almost as if the Academy was covering for itself so it doesn’t have to give black actors another Oscar for a few years. It’s not that Washington’s performance as a rogue cop in Training Day wasn’t good – it was – rather there were others who were better.
In the Bedroom took home no awards, despite three acting nominations and a best picture nod. But if the Academy isn’t going to honor Tom Wilkinson, whose role as a grief-stricken father in Bedroom was as powerful as any last year, why wouldn’t it give the Oscar to Russell Crowe, instead of Washington?
After all, A Beautiful Mind won best picture, director, supporting actress and adapted screenplay. Yet the film rode on the performance of Crowe as schizophrenic Nobel Prize winner John Nash.
But while we’re second-guessing, why wasn’t Lord of the Rings the big winner of the night? Rings was nominated in 13 different film achievement categories, yet wasn’t announced as the best picture.
It seemed the Academy was so busy making political statements Sunday it forgot its purpose. How else do you explain Oscars for every single war film nominated? While Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor and No Man’s Land each deserved nominations for the awards they won, it would be plausible to think the films’ statements put them on the Oscar stand rather than their achievements.
Bosnia’s No Man’s Land was a great foreign film that gave a truthful look into the Serbian conflict of 1993, but was it better than five-time nominee Amelie?
However, achievements were honored when Iris’ Broadbent took home the golden boy as best supporting actor. As John Murdoch, the 52-year-old Broadbent gave a heart-wrenching performance as nominee Judi Dench’s supportive husband. But beyond Iris, Broadbent truly was the supporting actor of the year with meaty roles opposite two other best actress nominees: Moulin Rouge’s Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary.
And Randy Newman finally broke through with the theme song to Monsters, Inc. It took him 15 nominations before he won the Oscar, but he was finally given the credit he was due.
And while the Academy went against the grain by giving Mind the top Oscar over Rings, at least we’re not talking about Moulin Rouge right now.
- William Albritton is The Oracle movies firstname.lastname@example.org